Change Management Series – Chapter 3
Implementing workplace change is rarely straightforward and takes a lot of effort – but having the right things in place certainly helps. For example, the organisational change management structure should ensure that the decision making about the change is effective and is carried out by the right people; that the communications and essential dialogue take place at the right level; and that the critical messages are delivered by those that the recipients will take seriously (and hopefully listen to!). Read here for more organisational change management principles.
At AWA, we believe that the change management team encompasses quite a few parties – all of whom need to be aligned in terms of what they are delivering, working towards a shared vision and speaking the same language. Ideally, if you ask any of them about the change, you would get a very similar answer!
The ‘Organisation for Change’
The ‘Organisation for Change’ (illustrated in this diagram) is necessary in order to ensure the effective integration of all technical solutions, workspace designs, allocation of resources, rules/protocols, entitlements and communication / engagement activities. You simply can’t explain the change to people without having a clear articulation of all these aspects.
This approach ensures that those delivering the project are doing so with the authority of the steering group  who make the overarching decisions, taking an organisational view. They also adjudicate where there are conflicting demands or priorities within the workstreams. This ensures good governance and avoids one stakeholder dominating proceedings along partisan lines!
The Programme Management  function coordinates the activities of the various workstreams alongside the input and liaison with the occupier communities.
The involvement of the occupiers is essential and by including different levels within our “change team” we keep all engaged and contributing at a level commensurate with their ability to make inputs / decisions and give direction.
Although this may seem a weighty governance structure (and indeed it may not be this significant in all cases, depending upon the organisation and the extent of the change), in our experience it works very well in terms of managing the transition of the change.
Supporting the Occupier Community
In the first blog “what is change management?“, we explained the foundational rationale for our change approach, which is to enable firstly a rational and then an emotional transition to occur for each person involved in the change. Being able to provide a rational, factual account of the change is a fundamental requirement – if people don’t understand what the change is, why it is being made, how things will work and what is required of them, then they will quickly get stuck on their journey and resist the change.
The constitution of our change team is there to provide all the answers for the occupiers in a coherent, truthful and timely way. In order to deliver the answers and information to the occupiers, we use a champion network as part of the change management process.
The Vital Role of Change Champions
We believe absolutely in the role of the champion in helping people to undertake their change journey and help to combat any initial resistance to change. By choosing a representative from each team to act as the “go to” person for the team – you instantly provide them with someone who is (by definition) influential, articulate, open minded, trustworthy, and has some energy and time to devote to the task. Champions are educated and supported by the Change Management workstream experts, through a series of workshop activities, and they in turn engage in detailed dialogue and exploration with their colleagues.
Each person must undertake a journey of discovery, having their questions answered, enabling their “testing out” of ideas and concepts – eventually leading to a situation where they understand the change, why it’s being made and what’s in it for them. The purpose is to help them to reach a decision to give the change a go, and to try to make the best of the opportunities on offer – for them and their team. The champion’s role is to ensure each person has undertaken this journey and has had enough preparation to put them in a good place prior to the change.
The journey is never without challenges – and is never concluded in a linear fashion! Many things can upset the balance and the champions must therefore be able to help people when they get “stuck” by recognising the tell-tale behaviours they occur when people aren’t getting what they need to progress through their journey.
This blog is part of a series of observations about behavioural change management which we hope will provide readers with a good understanding of what is needed to help people change. This is based on 25 years’ experience from change and workplace professionals, supporting clients making a change to new ways of working. Next time we will discuss the importance of change management.